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Resolution calls for family law reform ahead of new Parliament

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In light of the upcoming election, Nigel Shepherd, National Chair of Resolution, has urged the major political parties to commit to family law reform in their manifestos.   Sam Miles, Family Partner, here reviews the contents of the letter, and why they are necessary to keep up with today’s modern families.

Resolution represents 6,500 family justice professionals, including lawyers, who are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes and issues.  There are four main proposals in Mr Shepherd’s letter to the main parties, which are:

  1. Allow couples to divorce without blame
  2. Basic rights for cohabiting couples, who make up 10% of the population
  3. Ensure there is fair access to the family justice system
  4. Provide more financial clarity regarding divorce.

No blame divorce

“The idea of a no blame divorce has been on the agenda of Resolution for a number of years now, with a recent YouGov survey of the public showing that 69% agreed that people should be allowed to divorce without blame,” begins Sam.  “The current framework of one party having to be at fault to divorce, either through adultery or unreasonable behaviour unless they have been separated for at least 2 years, encourages an atmosphere of conflict.  It reduces the likelihood of an amicable separation which could have disastrous consequences on future arrangements and the wellbeing of any children involved.”

Under Mr Shepherd’s proposals, a divorce would be ‘finalised where one or both parties to a marriage give notice that their marriage has broken down irretrievably and one or both of them are still of that view after six months’. 

Rights for cohabiting couples

The number of cohabiting couples is on the rise, with more than 6 million couples now cohabiting compared to fewer than 3 million in 1996.  “This is the modern way that couples choose to live together; a growing number without any plans to marry,” continues Sam.  “Currently, cohabiting couples have no rights surrounding their property or pensions should they split or one of them die, unless they set up a Will or cohabitation agreement, which we would always recommend.  These proposals would bring recognition of this modern way of life and not discriminate against couples purely because they are not inclined to marry.

“Now is the perfect opportunity for these proposals to be seized and carried forward by the next Parliament,” concludes Sam.  “There is a fear that Brexit will overpower any plans that have been building in the last 10 years, and it’s important that our leaders are not tempted to put changes like this, that could have a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of families, to one side.  With the Conservative and Labour manifestos due out this week, it will be interesting to see where this lies in their priorities.”

If you are looking for advice on either divorce or cohabitation agreements, you can contact Sam or the Family team on 02380 717431 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.